No man is an island, as that famous quote goes. Team meetings aren’t exactly things that most employees look forward to, but they are necessary if one wants to run a successful business. They are also a great way to make sure that everyone on the team is on the same page, that no one is left behind when it comes to goals and agendas that the team is working towards. But, hey, we all have experienced those dour, boring meetings that seem to go nowhere. We all had those managers who like to arrange meetings for the sake of arranging meetings. And when you finish “those” kinds of meetings, you realize that there really wasn’t anything to talk about and that you received no key takeaway(s) from the whole thing. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some tips to make your next team meeting, a fruitful and productive one.

Tips on How To Set An Effective Team Meeting

1. Set a meeting when there’s something worth sharing.

For managers, ask yourself this: Do you really need to set up a time-consuming meeting just to discuss one single action point or agenda? Is what you’re discussing really worth sharing in a team meeting? If you answer no to these questions, then consider other faster modes of information dissemination instead. You can just communicate through emails or messages- or if the agenda is intended for just a few people, just walk up straight to them and tell them what they need to hear.

2. Make your objectives clear.

So, now you’ve decided that you have something worth sharing or something that needs to be discussed with the whole team. But make your objectives clear first. Write down your goals, your agenda, or whatever it is that you want to accomplish. Take a few minutes of your day to write everything down, and outline each little step if you can. It might sound to be a bit too nitpicky, but doing this will go a long way. When you’re done with this, distribute the agenda outline with your team beforehand so that they’ll know exactly what to expect going in.

3. Set ground rules and follow them religiously.

Be specific with your start and end times- and stick to it. It’s easy to get caught up in conversation during a meeting, but as much as possible, refrain from doing so. Meetings with no specific end times or deadlines are just meetings with no structure or objective. All of us would be stuck in meetings all day if no one keeps track of the time. To help you in this task, it’s best to solicit the help of a team member to remind everybody of how much time is left during the meeting or conference. You can also use time and tracking tools or software if you don’t want anyone to be burdened with the time-tracking. The important thing here is that you are always kept aware of the time. If you find yourself always running over, then something is wrong with how you’re organizing things. It’s best to discuss the most important points in the agenda first so that you can rush through the unimportant ones later if you’re running out of time. If you still have a lot of unfinished business left over, then try to discuss them during the next team meeting. What do you do about those who arrive late? A lot of people make the mistake of giving the latecomers a recap of what they missed during the meeting— but this is actually more harmful than helpful. It just reinforces the behavior and tells people that it’s a-okay to be late. It also wastes valuable meeting time and distracts those who might want to move on with the agenda at the moment. You might want to offer to recap what the team is discussing “offline”- or after the meeting. Better even if someone knows he or she will be late beforehand so that they can send in their work so that it can be reviewed even if they’re not physically present. Other important aspects that you can create rules around include attendance (e.g. if one team member is unexpectedly unable to attend, who gets notified?), participation (e.g. everyone should have a say in the meeting, no one should have a monopoly in the discussions), interruptions (how should team members handle phone calls and messages- should all devices be muted or are they allowed to step outside for a couple of minutes to deal with the interruption?). Make sure that your team members are well aware of these rules and follow them religiously.

4. Give team members specific administrative roles.

Giving people roles helps build up accountability and responsibility. Aside from the aforementioned timekeeper (who assists the manager or team leader with time tracking and time management), you could also have a recorder in the group. This recorder captures and transcribes all of the key decisions, points, action plans, or anything important that was talked about during the meeting. He or she can write minutes and keep records for future reference later on. Another important role is the facilitator. Usually, the team leader is the one who facilitates most meetings but tries to have this role on rotation so that other members on your team gain valuable team management experience too. A facilitator is one who actively asks questions from people, one who actively builds consensus among the meeting’s participants. He or she also keeps the conversation flowing in a meeting. It is an important leadership skill that all employees should be drilled on.

5. Effective Team Meetings Need Effective Team Members

Of course, you can’t expect to have an effective team if your team members don’t jive well with each other. It’s best to have team building activities every few months that can build camaraderie and well-being among your team. This way, every member will be able to connect better with each other and cultivate harmonious relationships with everyone in the group.